Wolken: 'Terrible' way to lose for Spartans
ARGENTA — Randy Wolken has coached softball at St. Joseph-Ogden since 1980.
He’s won more games (889) than any other coach in the state.
He’s led the Spartans to four state tournaments, including a championship in 2006.
He’s seen nearly everything a coach could see.
And then Saturday happened.
St. Joseph-Ogden lost the Class 2A Argenta-Oreana Sectional championship game 7-6 to Olympia. In a game that did not last the full seven innings after umpires called the game because of inclement weather with SJ-O batting with one out in the top of the sixth.
SJ-O had runners on second and third when play was halted.
“It’s terrible,” Wolken said. “Not to be able to finish the game was really disheartening for us, especially the seniors. I feel so bad for the seniors.”
Wolken said umpires consulted with Matt Troha, the IHSA’s softball administrator, on the phone and then called the game.
“I thought they would at least wait it out, but if they didn’t, then we could resume it on Monday,” Wolken said. “(The umpires) didn’t even really stay around and see if we could make it up later. It was called pretty quick.”
According to IHSA rules, a game is considered a full game once 41/2 innings have been completed if the home team is ahead or five innings if the visiting team is ahead. SJ-O, which was the visiting team, led 6-4 after scoring three runs in the top of the fifth before Olympia pushed across three in the bottom of the fifth to take a 7-6 lead.
“It’s totally disappointing,” Wolken said. “We had a good team; they had a good team. We led the whole game until the bottom of the fifth. It was our fault for giving up three runs. That cost us the game.”
The game was played in a steady rain from the third inning on, according to Argenta-Oreana athletic director Dan Sheehan. Wolken said both teams were called off the field in the top of the sixth inning when thunder was heard, which prompts a 30-minute delay. During the delay, lightning was spotted, Wolken said, and shortly thereafter, the game was called.
“We tried everything we could, covering areas of (the) mound and plate, but the field had standing water,” Sheehan said. “No one wants to see anyone lose this way, but the official IHSA rules were followed.”
Samantha Fleming had three hits, including a home run and a triple, and drove in three runs while Hannah Monk added two hits, including a double, for SJ-O (30-4).
Wolken was baffled about why the decision to call the game happened so quickly.
The field at Argenta-Oreana has lights. In fact, SJ-O played its sectional semifinal game on Tuesday night, a 7-5 win against Clinton. But by mid-afternoon Saturday, Wolken was left conflicted about the way SJ-O’s season ended.
“It was a tough way to lose,” Wolken said. “If you lose legitimately on the field, that’s one thing. But I don’t think the state really cares. They want to make sure they stay on schedule. It just seems like for a state game you should have to finish the whole game.”